Christian church leaders condemn sham election in Zimbabwe

GRANTHAM, Pa. (July, 25 2008)—In response to the rampant violence and evident political corruption surrounding the country’s recent elections, leaders from all of Zimbabwe’s Christian churches issued a statement rejecting President Robert Mugabe’s continuing leadership and urging for a unified national government.

The situation in the country has deteriorated “at a frightening pace” since the original March 29 contest, according to the statement, which was signed by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), of which the Brethren in Christ Church is a member denomination.

“As the Brethren in Christ Church we do not condone any form of violence,” said Danisa Ndlovu, bishop of the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe, who signed the statement. “We stand for what is right. We stand with the disadvantaged, the helpless, the poor, and the oppressed. Injustice of any kind is a slap in the face of our God.”

In their statement, leaders from across Zimbabwe described how people in their churches had been tortured, abducted, displaced, or even murdered in the weeks leading up to the election.

Bishop Danisa stated that the Church is “at pains when we see people who are already suffering due to hunger and lack of proper medical care being subjected to inhumane treatment. Human beings—irrespective of race, tribe, etc.—are created in the image of God. No one has a right to subject another human being to any form of indignity.”

The statement called for assistance from the United Nations, African Union, and Southern African Development Community in stabilizing the political and social climate in the country, warning that a lack of assistance may lead to “genocide similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and other hot spots in Africa and elsewhere.”

Responding to the situation last month, Bishop Danisa told a Mennonite World Conference reporter, “This is no longer a Zimbabwean issue but an African issue and an international issue.”

Speaking to the BIC Communications Office this week, Bishop Danisa added, “The Church cannot afford to remain silent when its people are being brutalized and traumatized for simply exercising their right to vote. We have no reason to lie about the violence, poverty, economic hardships, and governance issues affecting the peoples of our nation. The Church’s voice must not be brushed aside.”

More than sixty percent of Zimbabweans are practicing Christians. The country’s BIC Church has more than 33,000 members, making it the largest BIC Conference in the world.

» Message from the Heads of Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe

» Article on the Zimbabwean situation from Mennonite World Conference